November 30, 1897 - August 12, 1972
Wheeler Williams (1897-1972) studied sculpture at the Art Institute in Chicago, the city where he was born. He graduated from Yale in 1919, after having served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Balloon Corps during World War I. He earned a masters degree in architecture at Harvard in 1922, the same year he was awarded a medal from the American Institute of Architects. Deciding to devote himself to sculpture, he left for Paris and attended the École des Beaux-Arts before returning to the United States in 1928, where he worked both in New York City and California. Examples of Williams’s public sculpture include tablets honoring French pioneers (Michigan Avenue Bridge, Chicago, 1930), a relief of an Indian bowman (United States Post Office, Canal Street Station, New York City, 1938), a sculpture featuring Venus for the Parke-Bernet Galleries building (New York City, 1949), and a Robert A. Taft memorial (Washington, D.C., 1959). His medals include Stephen Potter (Phillips Exeter), Chester Plimpton (Yale), American Spirit Honor (U.S. Army), Insignia (Citizens Committee for Army and Navy), Colin Kelly, John Flanagan (Century Association), and 50th Anniversary (Medallic Art Company Competition, 1950). Williams, who served as president of the National Sculpture Society and the Fine Arts Federation of N.Y., was an outspoken critic of some modern art, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities where he spoke out against works selected to be displayed at the United States Exhibition in Moscow in 1959.